As a landlord, property inspections are vital to protecting your investment. You may have a tenant who is violating your lease agreement or who won't report a potential major maintenance issue out of fear they will have to pay for it. In any scenario, you can’t take care of something when you’re unaware there is something to take care of so no news doesn't always mean good news! Additionally, property inspections at the beginning and the end of the tenancy can mean the difference of thousands of dollars if not handled correctly. Here are the key types of inspections that should be preformed:
1. Move-in Inspection – This inspection, of course, is conducted during the move-in process. This report will need to be completed on the day your tenant takes occupancy to capture the condition of the property before they move in. During this inspection, a walk through of the property is done and any issues with the property that could be a deduction from their security deposit when they leave should be documented and photographed. Of course, we are assuming the property is in rent ready condition. Remember, the condition you lease the property in sets the standard for the tenant to maintain through the term of the lease and at move out!
This inspection should be conducted with the tenant so that they can never say that they did not know the condition of the property when they moved in. Pictures of the entire property (inside and out) should be taken as well. Once the inspection is completed, the tenant should sign and date the document agreeing to the condition. This document should then become a part of the Lease Agreement. Any changes to the property condition (other than normal wear and tear) can be charged to the tenant at move out and deducted from their security deposit. If proper documentation is not taken, though, you may not be allowed to deduct anything from the deposit!
2. Routine Safe and Clean Inspections – This is a routine inspection, performed to ensure that the property is safe and clean. They should be conducted every 3 – 6 months and coordinated with your tenant. When conducting, it is important to look for issues which the tenant has caused, such as pulling a door off it’s hinges, smoke damage, etc. and those items you are responsible for such as a leaking faucet or a water intrusion that could lead to further damage. At this inspection, lease violations such as unauthorized pets can also be discovered. Again, this inspection should be documented and supported by pictures. If there are any issues, a follow-up inspection should be scheduled so you can verify the tenant has corrected the issues they are responsible for. If there are any issues outside of their responsibility, you would want to schedule a vendor to complete the repair.
3. Vendor Inspections- These would be supervised inspections to accompany a vendor into the property whether for a maintenance item or possibly an insurance claim. The last thing you want to do is compromise your tenant's security. Having them supervised is the best defense against those types of issues.
3. Drive-by Inspections – This inspection needs no pre-notifications. This inspection would be consist of driving by the property and observing the condition on the exterior, and taking photos. Again, if there are issues observed (such as overgrown grass) they should be documented and the tenant should be notified. Then, schedule a “safe and clean” inspection as a follow up.
4. Move-out Inspections – The “move-out” inspection is your opportunity to determine the overall condition of the property when the tenant moves out. This inspection should be conducted once the tenant returns the keys. In Georgia, the Landlord Tenant law requires any landlord who owns 10 or more properties (or landlords who use a third party agent to manage) to conduct and assess potential damages within 3 business day of the move out or discovery that the property is vacant and provide the assessment to the tenant within 5 business days. Failure to do so would waive the right to withhold any amount of the deposit. Ideally, it is best to have the tenant present to sign the inspection findings, but many times the tenant will decline, believing that if they don’t sign they won’t be responsible. It is extremely important to document and photograph all issues discovered in this inspection. If there are items outside of normal wear and tear, you may be able to deduct them from the deposit and it is very hard for a tenant to deny in front of a judge what is obvious in a picture! After the move out inspection is completed, don't forget to strictly follow the security deposit limits and deadlines.
These inspections can and will help you to keep your properties in good repair and hopefully well-maintained by your tenants. They can also protect you when it comes to the security deposit.
For additional information, you can download the Georgia Landlord Tenant Handbook by clicking here.
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At Ease Rental Solutions we believe that property inspections are vital to protecting your investment and maximizing your profit. The problem is, how do you find time to conduct one, how should you handle one if your property is occupied, and what do you do if your tenant refuses to let you come in? That's where we can help!
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